Thursday, June 8, 2023


Helium-filled frame reduces RV weight – Are they kidding?

Can a helium-filled RV frame significantly reduce the RV’s weight? Read on to find out.

I have been part of the RV industry all my life and have seen plenty of so-called “greatest advances” come and go. I am always intrigued by the designer’s intentions, but often less than impressed by the implementation.

The flying motorhome, black water vaporizer Thermasan, and the fifth wheel for sedans are a few examples. Most of them turned out to just be novelties along the way.

To stay abreast on all things RV, I read many industry magazines and newsletters. Most show up in my inbox on weekdays, when RV factories and suppliers are open and sharing their latest press releases.

On a Friday at the end of last month (March) an article entitled “Encore Introduces Super-Light Adventure Trailer” showed up in my inbox. Anything new in the travel trailer market is always high on my radar, especially since my wife and I are in the market for a new one.

Portions of the article

Here are some portions of the article that piqued my interest (most interesting portions underlined by me):

There were some very creative things that went on behind the scenes, the company said, that make this the innovative towable that it is. Encore partnered with an aerospace technology company – that was not identified – in developing what the company said “may be one of the greatest advancements in RV manufacturing in recent decades.”

The 21BPG has a dry weight of 2,675 pounds. This was achieved by hermetically sealing every aluminum tube on the trailer frame and then pressurizing the tubes with helium gas through a proprietary valve system.

The combination of lightweight materials and Encore’s proprietary helium system, called HF² – which stands for Helium Filled Frame – allow for smaller vehicles to pull larger RVs.

I instantly had visions of the Pixar movie “Up”, where an elderly gentleman attaches hundreds of helium balloons to his home using them to lift it into the sky. Then the analytic side of my brain kicked in and I thought, how much helium can be trapped in the framework of a 21-foot travel trailer? Time to research further…

Manufacturer’s press release

I then saw a link included in the article directing me to the manufacturer’s press release. The press release included this bold statement: “We were able to reduce the weight of the trailer by 43% utilizing the helium gas … this is proving to be a real game changer in RV manufacturing.”

Having already Googled how much lift is provided by a cubic foot of helium, it was time to call “bull” on this “greatest advancement.”

I was ready to move this into my fodder file for my monthly “Fact or Fiction” column when I saw the header photo on the press release, which included a short phrase. If you haven’t guessed already, it said, “Aprils Fools!!” Yep, I missed the fact that the following day (Saturday) was April Fools’ Day, April 1st.

Just for fun, I decided to run some numbers. I found that filling the frame with helium would be insignificant. I then calculated what would happen if the entire trailer was helium-filled. Of course, the side effect of doing so would cause the occupants to sound like Mickey Mouse! The resulting lift (weight reduction) from the helium would be less than 100 pounds. So much for helium being a “game changer”—in any amount!

How about you? Did you bite on an April Fools’ prank this year? Do you recall other “great advances” or “game changers” to RVs that have come and gone? Please share using the comment box below.


Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson has been around travel trailers his entire life. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership long before the term “RV” had been coined. He has served in every position of an RV dealership with the exception of bookkeeping. Dave served as President of a local chapter of the RVDA (Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association), was on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college and was a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. He and his wife Cheri operated their own RV dealership for many years and for the past 29 years have managed RV shows. Dave presents seminars at RV shows across the country and was referred to as "The foremost expert on boondocking" by the late Gary Bunzer, "The RV Doctor". Dave and his wife are currently on their fifth travel trailer with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications on his own unit.


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1 month ago

My wife thinks that if I fill the tires and waste tanks with helium that my weight restrictions would drop to where I would be able to take her along. Tool box – wife? Tool box – wife? Hmmmm

1 month ago

My first thought was April 1, but I do have to give them points for creativity. It was worth a chuckle.

Steve H.
1 month ago

And don’t forget to rotate the air in your tires to keep the insides from wearing out.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

We all may be nerds, but that doesn’t mean nerds are stupid! It does make me feel sorry for the cheated humans in the world who have little cognition of space, direction, physical properties, or finances. They are sadly, walking suckers.

P.T. Barnum- “No man ever went broke overestimating the ignorance of the American public.”

Will B.
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

Your description of the “cheated humans” is exactly what I think every time I watch American’s (not) Funniest Videos. “Dude, no! You can’t walk on that!!!”

Neal Davis
1 month ago

My initial thought was how do they strike the right balance between reducing the perceived weight AND keeping the RV on the ground. So, yes, I fell for it. 😎

Oliver L
1 month ago

My best guess is that the “recent Friday” date for the article was Friday April 1, 2023

Bob p
1 month ago

First thought at the beginning of the article, thinking about a helium ballon, how much helium it takes to lift the weight of the ballon, compared to the volume available inside the frame of a RV, you couldn’t make the RV lighter if you could seal it and fill the entire body with helium. When you think about a balloon losing its helium after a few days, you’d have to have a tanker truck following you around to refill the RV every time you moved it. Ha! I’m really surprised you even considered that. Lol

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

This is along the same lines that truckers say to another driver who forgets to turn off his directional signal after a lane change. “Driver you’re going to run out of blinker fluid”. The best come back I ever heard was “no sir this is a late model truck, it has electrical signals”. Lol

Seann Fox
1 month ago

I immediately filed this with the chrome plated Fufu valves and halogen headlight fluid

1 month ago

My first thought was this is an April fools day joke!

Stephen Malochleb
1 month ago

Well just remember that in Washington everything is filled with,(HOT AIR). 🙂 🙂

1 month ago

Explains why Dollar Store can’t fill the Happy Birthday balloons. The helium shortage is due to RV frame filling! Makes sense now.

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  Rick

😆 Good one, Rick! Have a great day! 😀 –Diane at

1 month ago

Next thing you’re going to tell me is that car dealers are inflating tires with nitrogen! Yeah, you almost got me!

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